Luke 4:1-13: The Temptation of Christ
You and I sin every day. There is no one here who is perfectly honest, perfectly loving, perfectly self-controlled, perfectly centred on God’s glory in everything they do. We are under constant assault from sin, we find ourselves in a spiritual war whether we choose it or not. And yet we must not sin, we must obey God, we must resist sin and satan and become saints that put on display the power of God over sin. How do we do this? The temptation of Christ is a window into how a true human being is tempted and stands against temptation.
The temptation of Christ in Luke 4:1-13 is about more than a lesson on how to be holy however. Let me put the significance to you in the form of a question: Why did Jesus have to be born instead of like Adam being made an adult to die on the cross? Why did Jesus need to born, grow up in a sinful world, why did He have to obey every command of God, and why in particular did He have to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested? Luke 4:1, ‘And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.’
Jesus had to be born to Adam’s line in order to be one of us to represent us. Jesus died on the cross in payment for the many sins we have done, the wages of sin is death, Christ paid with His life. The Bible tells us that He endured temptation and is able to sympathise with us when we are tempted, Heb. 4:15, ‘ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ But this is not the only reason why the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be subjected to temptation.
We have seen that Jesus is our Second Adam, the first Adam was put in a Garden and tested, and if he had obeyed he would have entered into eternal blessing for himself and the human race. He sinned and failed and plunged the world into misery, but God promised another who would come, who would do battle with satan, but who would overcome him crushing his head. Jesus is this promised One. He is the Second Adam, who will be tested and tried and will not sin but will obey God, and so be worthy to receive the reward for Himself and all those who believe in Him. This is why Jesus is being tempted in the wilderness and throughout His life.
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is like but unlike our own temptations. Jesus undergoes temptations without having a sinful nature attracted to sin; we go through it with a sinful nature that desires sin. Jesus was tempted by the devil himself and there were various miraculous elements that would have included visions of all the kingdoms of the world, we don’t get such special attention. Jesus was tempted to doubt His Divine and Messianic Sonship; we are tempted to doubt our adoptive sonship. But there are also similarities. The devil seeks to misrepresent God to us; to misquote the bible; to get us to question God’s goodness and love and faithfulness; to put our own will above God’s will; our own self-interest before God’s glory. So as we look at the temptations of Christ, there are three of them. As we look at these three temptations we will examine the nature of the temptations, the response Christ makes, and how this applies to us when we face temptation.